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Ayon Complete Game Gem Gives Ducks Series

Oregon Moves Into Sole Possession of 4th in Conference

Syndication: The Register Guard Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

After winning early in Thursday’s game with an offensive barrage, Oregon tried the same strategy on Friday. But Oregon’s early offense stalled, and the Ducks instead rode an outstanding 6-hit complete game pitching gem from Isaac Ayon and rallied late to beat Arizona 4 – 3. In a tight, well-played game by both teams, it was a late Arizona mis-cue and some smart base-running that delivered the Ducks a series-clinching run. With the victory, Oregon moves into sole possession of 4th place in the Pac-12 standings, with one game to play.

In the first, Arizona managed to get runners on first and second with 2 outs, but Ayon got a harmless fly ball to left field to end the threat. After a flyout, Colby Shade laced an 0-1 pitch up the middle, but was caught stealing on a subsequent pitch. Brennan Milone then reached on a fielding error in right, and as the ball skipped around the outfield, Milone motored all the way to third. Drew Cowley then brought Milone home with a single to left. That was it for the Ducks in the first, though, as a fly out to center left Cowley stranded.

In the second, Arizona got a lead-off single, but Ayon struck out the next batter, and then got a routine grounder to short that the Ducks turned into a double play. Anthony Hall opened the Oregon second with a first-pitch single to left. Sam Novitske laid down a bunt to move Hall to second base. Bennett Thompson then delivered a one-out home run over the left field fence to give Oregon a 3 – 0 lead. Two fly outs ended the Oregon inning.

Each team managed only a single in the third inning, but Arizona led off the 4th with a homer to cut the lead to 3 – 1. The Wildcats couldn’t follow up as Ayon got 3 straight infield grounders. In Oregon’s half, the Ducks got two baserunners on a Novitske walk and a Gavin Grant single, but each was preceded by an out and the third out came on the heels of Grant’s hit, so Oregon stranded two, but still led 3 – 1.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 13 Oregon at Arizona State Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arizona struck again in the 5th. After Ayon retired the lead batter, the Wildcats got a single, a walk from Ayon and then a run-scoring double to left field. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, a following ground out to short scored the runner from third. Ayon intentionally walked the next Wildcat and then got a fly out to center to end Arizona’s inning – but the damage had been done and the game was now tied, 3 – 3. Oregon could only get a single in the bottom of the 5th.

Neither team did much with the 6th inning – Arizona went down in order, and for Oregon with two outs Bennett Thompson reached on an error and then stole second but was stranded there by a fly out to center. The 7th was similar, with the Wildcats getting a one-out walk followed by an inning-ending double play. Oregon had a two-out single from Milone followed by a strikeout. Going to the 8th, it was still 3 – 3.

Ayon, though, was really on fire and got 3 quick outs on only 10 pitches, including 2 strikeouts. Oregon’s half of the 8th was a stop-and-start affair. The first Duck up struck out but was followed by another single from Hall. Bryce Boettcher came on to pinch-run for Hall and was thrown out trying to steal second. While this would have moved him into scoring position, it seemed an ill-advised move. This gave Oregon two outs and not a lot more room to maneuver. Arizona’s third error of the game, a throw from third that sailed over the first baseman’s head, allowed Novitske to reach base. With Tyler Ganus pinch-running for Novitske, Jacob Walsh came on to pinch-hit for Thompson. Walsh laid off bad pitches and drew a walk that gave Oregon runners on first and second. Grant came through for the Ducks, lacing a 1 – 0 pitch up the middle for the game-winning RBI. Grant was stranded but Oregon, now leading 4 – 3, went to the top of the 9th needing only to shut down the Wildcats for a series win.

Ayon put a giant exclamation point on his complete-game performance, striking out the Wildcats in order in the top of the 9th on just 11 pitches and the Ducks were home.

Isaac Ayon spread out 6 Arizona hits, struck out 10 and walked 3 in the winning effort. Drew Cowley went 3 – 4 with an RBI, Anthony Hall was 2 – 4, Bennett Thompson went 1 – 3 with 2 RBI and Gavin Grant was 2 – 4 with an RBI to complete the Ducks scoring.

The teams play again tomorrow in the final game of the series. Join adamh86 right here on ATQ for that coverage.